If you’re one of the millions of Americans traveling this holiday season, you can make back some of the money you’re spending on travel by prepping your house or apartment for energy savings while you’re gone (see how NC State saves energy on campus during winter break).
Hit the switch
Lighting accounts for up to 15 percent of energy use, so make sure you turn off the lights before you leave.
Pull the plug
Even when appliances and electronics aren’t on, they might still be in standby mode, which means they are using energy. Pull the plug on all non-essential electronics/appliances to avoid wasting energy. This includes your TV, DVR, cell phone charger, laptop adapter, coffeemaker, microwave, etc.
Adjust the temperature
There’s no need to heat your home to 70 degrees if no one is there, so adjust your thermostat to a lower temperature. But don’t go lower than 50 degrees; that temperature will ensure your home stays warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing. This practice is one of the biggest reasons NC State has saved $2.1 million in winter break energy use over the last decade.
Turn down the water heater
If you have access to the water heater, adjust the setting to vacation mode or to a lower temperature.
Close doors, windows and blinds
All of these help keep heat in and the wintry cold out.
Have a mini-fridge? Clean it out and unplug it while you’re gone. Have a full-size refrigerator you don’t want to unplug? Add full jugs of water to take up space. Refrigerators run more efficiently when full.
Implementing these tips should save energy while you’re gone. If you really want to know how much you’ve saved, note the number on your power meter before leaving and when you come back. If you don’t save as much as you think, you might want to investigate your home’s energy use. Perhaps there’s a slightly open window or other energy waster. Find it and you could save more energy and money year-round.
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